East Croydon Cool talks…Matrescence

East Croydon Cool talks…is a blog series that explores topics of cultural interest via local area experts. We’re a sucker for a new word, so having heard the phrase ‘Matrescence’ for the first time (this week is Maternal Mental Health Week), we spoke with Laura from Mind the Mother to find out more.

Based in South Croydon, Mind the Mother is essentially a maternal mental health service helping women from pregnancy into motherhood. As a qualified Cognitive Hypnotherapist & Maternal Coach, Laura offers a range of services through the platform including hypnobirthing, IVF, and tokophobia (extreme fear of giving birth).

So Laura, first off, what is Matrascence and why is it relevant to women today?

Matrescence is a term that was first used in 1973 by Dana Raphael. However, it is now becoming part of our vocabulary, thanks to people like Alexandra Sacks in her Ted talk. Matrescence refers to the transition into motherhood that is given by the physical, emotional, and psychological changes in women. It can include the pre-conception period and some say it could last a lifetime.

Nowadays, society is starting to open up to the realities of becoming a mother, like loneliness, a sense of overwhelm, or doubting all the time about what they are doing because of standards that have been set by others (which in most cases don’t apply to most mums).

How did you get into this line of work?

After becoming a mother myself, I was shocked by the lack of support and information regarding this massive change that I was going through. Why was nobody talking about it?

One morning, I was on a bus going with my baby, to meet with another mother. On the bus, there was this lovely lady, that started to chat with me about her child, a moment later she was in tears because she wanted to be with her child, instead of going to work, and how guilty she was feeling about it.

Unfortunately, when we think of birth preparation, all that comes to mind and the available courses are all about childbirth, and little is talked about the mother’s birth. With all of this, I created Mind the Mother.

My aim is to help mothers to feel better.

What does Mind the Mother comprise of?

At Mind the Mother, you can find pregnancy courses, 1-2-1 sessions of Cognitive Hypnotherapy & Maternal Coaching, a discussion group for mothers, and a complete program for new parents (doing it as a couple).

The courses offered are for pregnancy and include hypnobirthing, how to keep a positive pregnancy, and birth mental readiness. In all of the pregnancy courses, mums will take different techniques that are useful beyond pregnancy.

After giving birth, I work with mums on a 121 basis -mainly on birth trauma, PND (postnatal depression), loss of identity, anxiety & confidence- And now there is the option to also join the Mums’ Circle (a discussion group in South Croydon).

For couples that want to feel better prepared mentally for parenthood, there’s the ‘Journey to Parenthood’ program which is the most comprehensive.

On a corporate side, I have provided workshops for charities and work on 1-2-1 sessions.

Tell us more about the ‘Journey to Parenthood’ program

This is the most complete program that is offered at Mind the Mother. During the pregnancy, it includes the hypnobirthing course, as well as couple sessions and individual sessions to work on feeling confident and empowered in the process of becoming a parent. The 3 pillars of the course are individual confidence, couple consolidation, and family-focused.

The second part of the course, which happens after the arrival of the baby, is focused on the bonding of the family and the individual and couple’s needs. Not only will there be the couple, and individual sessions (essential to tackle the changes happening in the first year after the parents are born), but it also includes up to 2 sessions with a sex therapist to work on the couple’s intimacy.

What sort of Events and Workshops have you run?

Recently, I have run a very popular workshop on keeping a positive pregnancy during lockdown. The events and workshops depend on the demand and are sometimes in collaboration with other specialists. Please check the page or signup for the newsletter to receive the latest info on events and workshops.

What do parents learn on a Hypnobirthing course?

This is an amazing course because you get to unlearn what society has told you about giving birth! It’s packed with loads of techniques to keep you calm when you need it the most. How to manage sensations (pain); another important part is communication: how to communicate in a positive way to achieve what you are after. Being a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I can help mums to free their minds to give birth, in a positive way. And it is not just for childbirth, most of the techniques and learnings can be used beyond birth. For example, if you were able to control your sensations during labour, you will be able to use those techniques for other sensations you might feel in the future. 

The objective of the course is to have a positive birth, whether it is a c-section, water birth, one with interventions, etc.

Why is Maternal Coaching important for women today?

It is important today because we are told that multi-tasking is the way forward. And in motherhood, you learn to focus on what is most important to you.

Maternal Coaching helps mothers to find the clarity they are looking for. Sometimes it is in the form of following a passion, sometimes it helps to decide that actually, they want to be a stay-at-home mum, and sometimes it helps them to find peace, in a mind that could feel chaotic.

I work with mothers on a 1-2-1 basis doing coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy, and whilst the main two reasons they come to see me are anxiety due to loss of identity and birth trauma; 90% of the mums I see report a deep sense of loneliness.

Nowadays, there are many discussions about equality, and for companies to assume that when an employee returns from maternity leave is the person with the same motivations, before maternity leave, says a lot about the lack of understanding in our society. More and more companies are working with coaches to improve the retention of employees after maternity leave, and that is a great starting point.

How will the Mums’ Circle you’re launching next month work?

Mums’ Circle is a space for mothers to have open and honest conversations about motherhood. But not the typical conversation you might have in a baby group where you share explosive poop stories or you share milestones of your baby to see if other babies at the same age are doing the same things or not.

Each meeting will have a suggested topic for discussion; which is then open to discussion. We will finish the meeting in high positives. There will be a friendly atmosphere, free of judgment.

Where are you working from?

For the past year, like most of the country, I have been working from home. But I am happy that, as the restrictions begin to lift, I have a lovely space in South Croydon near the Bus Garage. And I will soon start seeing 1-2-1 clients in East Croydon.

Why would a woman need to be mentally ready for motherhood?

The transition process is different for each person. However, most first-time mums believe that the change will not be as big as it happens to be. Later on, when the penny drops, and it feels like they might be lost, they don’t have the tools to move forward and they just “go with the flow”.

By having resources available, it is easier to battle the challenges that motherhood presents.

For more information, check out the Mind the Mother website or follow them on Instagram. The new Mums Circle group will start on Wednesday 19th May and will run every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month at 8 pm. The initial meeting is £7 so book now to secure your spot. 

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